A strike by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has cancelled classes for over 500,000 students across 24 colleges in Ontario.
The strike began just after midnight on Monday, October 16th after the union was unable to come to an agreement with the College Employer Council, which represents more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors and librarians.
Among the demands of the union are a 7.75% wage increase over four years, a 50:50 ratio of full-time to contract faculty (currently over 70% contract faculty), increased job security for partial-load faculty (who are currently hired and re-hired for semester-long contracts), and academic freedom to give a faculty a stronger voice in academic decision-making.
J. P. Hornick, chair of the union’s bargaining team, claimed that their final offer “is a fair and reasonable offer that addresses the top concerns of faculty across the province while taking into account the employer’s concerns about costs.”
However, the College Employer Council said in a press release that “the colleges cannot accept the union’s demands that would ultimately add more than $250 million to annual costs [where the colleges represented by the council currently spend $750 million on full-time faculty salaries], eliminate thousands of contract faculty jobs, and jeopardize the quality of college programs.”
Don Sinclair, CEO of the College Employer Council, also claimed that no student at any of the colleges represented by the council has ever lost a school year because of a strike.
However, students of the affected colleges have made a petition on change.org demanding a reimbursement of their tuition for each day the strike goes on. As of writing, almost 90,000 had signed the petition, which claims that college administrations have nothing to lose from the strike otherwise.
As of writing, no talks have been scheduled between the OPSEU and CEC.